The Period Bath Takes on a New Luster
Vintage-look bathtubs and decor take you back in time without sacrificing convenience or style.
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Do a Little Homework
Browse books and magazines to get ideas for the vintage look you want. If you really want authenticity, choose the colors for paint and tile that were used at that time, or be brave and use your own favorite shades — remember, you make the rules. You can go with a pristine all-white bath (and there are many shades of white from which to choose) or choose warm wood accents and a splash of color here and there. Or, if you want the room to be part of your master bedroom suite, transition the look into your bath with the same color palette, lighting and furnishings.
Claw-Foot Tubs Big Enough for Two
A large claw-foot tub can be the focal point of today's period-look retreats. These luxurious, curvaceous tubs are often the starting point for homeowners and come in a world of finishes and colors including copper. Unlike grandma's bathtub, however, there's actually room enough to stretch out or even invite your partner. Reproduction tubs come with a variety of high-end interpretations of the classic claw foot and are made of lighter acrylic as well as traditional cast iron. A good site for browsing is www.vintagetub.com.
Vintage Is in the Details
Natural materials that are time-appropriate will also enhance the vintage vibe so avoid synthetic materials unless they replicate a natural one like marble or stone. In addition to tile, you can evoke a nostalgic feel by using wainscoting or beadboard to cover the walls, with period-appropriate window treatments and wide baseboards to finish the look.
Lighting is also key for the period look of your bath. Restoration Hardware and Rejuvenation Lighting & House Parts both specialize in lighting fixtures (and other accessories) that celebrate the past.
The Old-World feel of decorative tiles will also help frame your vintage look. The choice of tiles can be dizzying but going to a specialty store and seeking an expert's opinion will make your choices easier, say designers. Classic white subway tiles, which are the size of bricks, are the standard for creating a period look. They can be combined with black or colored tiles for a clean, crisp style. Combined with hexagonal-tile black and white flooring, you'll create a timeless bath that will also work with most any fixtures you choose.
Fixtures Set the Mood
Chrome and brass fixtures say vintage, but polished nickel or copper will lend a sophisticated, modern take to your bath. Wall-mounted faucets for the basin or the tub will streamline the appearance without the clutter of complicated plumbing, and enable you to incorporate a trendy raised sink bowl without compromising your design. Free-standing console sinks, rather than a cabinet or counter-mounted sink, were typical in the early-20th century. Today's take on the classic sink includes a variety of colors beyond white.
Another design element of the period look is exposed plumbing. "In a vintage bath some people really enjoy the look of having the plumbing exposed," Marion says. "It's part of the beauty of the design."
It may look old but the "thermostatic" shower by Herbeau features the latest in plumbing technology and maintains your chosen temperature from the instant you turn it on. Now that's something grandma never had.
Baths from the Past Collection
Herbeau Creations of America
Vintage Tub & Bath
Rejuvenation Lighting & House Parts
Replacing tired old fixtures is the fastest way to give your bath a bold, new look on a budget.